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How long did it take for your first elk?

Search for units that have historically had leftover tags after a first draw. Note that almost universally these units will not have as good of access/public land as the units that are fully subscribed. Putting yourself in for that unit will give you good odds to draw. (Of course if you are thinking of applying now for Wyoming, you have no idea if quotas will change or stay the same from last year, as you are applying 3 full months before the quota is established).
 
I want to hear @Greenhorn 's story. Come on Kurt.
6 years - though not really trying until the last year. I got my 1st Nov ‘94. First hunted elk in ‘88 while in college but no luck and didn’t go more than a couple times while in school. I was always more interested in heading home to NE MT and hunting whitetail deer where I grew up. Had a job with vacation time and took time off in Nov ‘94 and got a nice buck early and thought this was the time to get an elk. Got the elk after 9 straight days hunting.

The deer and elk that year..
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Was with my friend Peter Ponca - one of the toughest humans I’ve ever met. He went back with me that night to pack meat in late November. 5+ miles in. He had Slivovitz from his homeland - it was before he was a US citizen. Peter has packed numerous elk out for me, always on a short notice and sometimes a very long ways from the truck.

I called him a couple years ago and said “Pete I got an elk - want to pack meat?”

He declined- and is a little older and smarter than me.

He saved my life packing one out in 2002. I would have died from hypothermia had it not been for him. It was the worst evening of packing elk I’ve ever experienced.

He took this pic of my first elk - 1994 will never forget that day.
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The last elk Pete helped me pack out - there were numerous. This was 2010 with @Fidel on the right. I’m hoping to help pack out an easy Wyoming bull for Fidel's this fall! And a BIG one.
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3 days….my first elk hunt, solo and my first trip out west. I was walking across a deadfall in Wyoming and saw a spike about 75 yards away and shot it while balancing on a deadfall about 4ft off the ground lol.
 
I think I hunted 5 years before I killed an elk. I was hunting 10 days a season probably and had a few opportunities to kill a cow but was trying to kill a bull. I finally caved and shot a cow at 50 yards in her bed. It must have broken the ice because after that, bulls became much easier to find, mainly because I discovered that there were much easier places to kill elk than where I learned to hunt. It was 1977ish and that first cow was 6 miles from the truck which to this day is the second furthest elk that I have killed from the truck. It was the first elk that my family ever packed out in backpacks, and we never took a picture.
 
Four years. Started hunting at 26 yrs old. Pretty much clueless. A friend got me in to bowhunting elk for starters in '89. That season he called a bull in to my lap...5 yards. I froze. Too busy staring at A) the body size B) the bulls eyes bugging out C) the snot on his nose.😆
Anyway I had it in my head that I would only hunt with a recurve, or a .50 cal muzzleloader. Finally caved and got a wheel bow. I killed deer with my bow, and deer and a moose with blackpowder. By '93 I was frustrated with the elk hunting. Passed on numerous raghorns and cows looking for a 6 pt. My buddy had me fixated on big bulls only. This was REALLY dumb. I did learn about elk though, spent far more time in the woods back then.
'93 I bought a 30.06. Shot a bull on the opener. Should have killed the herd bull at 200 yds but was doubting the distance. Again, new weapon and clueless.
Yeah, pretty much did everything backwards or the hard way. Killed my first archery bull in '94.
 
I had quite a few hunts before I finally hung my tag on an elk. Hunting only in AZ, where we were drawing a tag only every 3-5 years on average makes it really tough to get any good at hunting elk and retaining the memories of what you learned while getting your butt handed to you. One year I shot a bull, which someone else tagged before I could get to it across a small canyon. The wife (the supposed hunter) even admitted they never fired a shot, even though the husband disputed it. I was like 19 and wasn't going to argue (nowadays, there'd be real trouble).

By the time I started bowhunting, I had killed a couple. Then I tagged out on bulls my first 2 bowhunts and thought I was in the groove. Two hunts since then have netted tag soup. The process continues. The progress is not as linear. But it sure is fun and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
 
When I was introduced to hunting my party didn't take it too seriously. It was more of an excuse to get into the woods and drink while driving around all day. Once I finally started hunting and taking things seriously under my own power, it took me 3 years to kill a cow. I hunted a ton during those 3 years to make it happen. Since then, the last 3 years I have taken a bull every year. With my biggest being my first back in 2021. This year I harvested 3 (1 bull 2 cows) elk and helpped in the harvest of 4 others (3 bulls 1 cow), it feels good to finally know what I'm doing in the elk woods.

Photo of my first bull (319 typical w/broken point).
 

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My Dad didn't hunt so it wasn't until my second year of college in 1965 when one of my roommates took me deer hunting near his home in NW Colorado. I shot a spike muley buck that year and went back with him the next year with both deer and elk tags in my pocket and shot a 5x5 bull the first morning out. I didn't carry a camera back then, so no pics of either animal.

I didn't kill another elk until 1971 (another 5x5) after I got out of the Army. Then I got into a lucky streak, killing an elk every year but 4 through 1998. In all, I've killed 30 bull elk and 5 cows. All were DIY hunts, and most were on public land.

My biggest bull was this 375" (gross) bull from a DIY Public land hunt in NW Montana in 1977. His main beams were 59 1/2" and 60 1/2".
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My Dad didn't hunt so it wasn't until my second year of college in 1965 when one of my roommates took me deer hunting near his home in NW Colorado. I shot a spike muley buck that year and went back with him the next year with both deer and elk tags in my pocket and shot a 5x5 bull the first morning out. I didn't carry a camera back then, so no pics of either animal.

I didn't kill another elk until 1971 (another 5x5) after I got out of the Army. Then I got into a lucky streak, killing an elk every year but 4 through 1998. In all, I've killed 30 bull elk and 5 cows. All were DIY hunts, and most were on public land.

My biggest bull was this 375" (gross) bull from a DIY Public land hunt in NW Montana in 1977. His main beams were 59 1/2" and 60 1/2".
qfbKqvsl.jpg
Gorgeous bull. That thing is wicked looking.
 
1st ever elk hunt, left over cow tag. Drew and antelope tag and decided to add a week and pick up a leftover tag just to try elk hunting. Caught a herd crossing BLM right before daylight...parked the truck circled around them got set up and had to wait a few minutes for legal shooting light. Hunt was over by 7:10am..had it quarter packed out and back in town in time to catch the lunch special....filled my antelope tag few days later...Great 1st trip out west...dont worry I have eaten a bunch of tags since then..lol
 
Like the title says, how long did it take you to bag your first elk? Bull or cow. 2023 was my third year hunting them and I have yet to get one. I've had encounters often but in the part of Washington I'm in its true spike only and I only encounter cows and big bulls. I'm putting in for a bull tag in my preferred unit, not counting on drawing, but I definitely feel like I am still just "paying my dues." How long did it take you?
5 years for my first, another 13 for my second. I was in school out-of-state for 11 of those years, however, and did help drag out at least 15 elk and only got about 5 days to hunt a season. Once I picked up a bow and moved home permanently I've started killing them more consistently. I figure it takes about 20 days in the field, plus some stupid luck, (could be the first, could be the last) for me.
 
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